B25 Mitchell – the Panchito experience

Incredible experience with the Georgetown Aviation Museum volunteers and flying on the B25 Mitchell aircraft they maintain, named PANCHITO. For all the official details, check out their terrific website – https://www.delawareaviationmuseum.org/aircraft/b-25.html

The original Panchito according to the above website – ” The B-25J, serial number 43-28147, was assigned to Captain Don Seiler of the 396th Bomb Squadron.  Capt. Seiler named his new plane “Panchito” after the feisty Mexican rooster from the 1943 animated musical “The Three Caballeros”.

Below are just a few pictures outside & inside the aircraft.

Below is some fun “flight information” about our flight from Georgetown, Delaware (GED) to Hagerstown Maryland (HGR) . Our “show time” was 0600 on Saturday morning, Sept 11, 2021. We helped with moving the B-25 out of the hanger, acting as spotters, and putting the other planes that are stored in front of it back into the hanger. My hubby went along and assisted too, but he didn’t go on the flight. By 7 am we were onboard and getting ready for take off.

Stats from FLIGHTAWARE.COM – 50 minute flight GED-HGR 7:06-7:56 , 151 miles, max altitude 5900

Once we landed, we got straight to work! We unloaded all the “gear” for the day from the aircraft. (Thankfully that stuff was loaded on Friday). There were 2 tables, 2 coolers, multiple bins of “retail sales items” and chairs, 2 EZ-UP tents, and lots of aircraft maintenance gear. We had just under an hour to get the tents set up and be ready to deal with passengers booked for the first flights of the day.

My main job was to check in the passengers and get the forms all signed, and to sell merchandise to people at the show. My friend Pete did the safety briefings and took them to the aircraft, and between flights he also worked at the tent selling things.

The B25 flights were scheduled, and sold in advance of the show, 6 passengers per flight. There were a total of 5 flights in Hagerstown.

After the passengers went out to the B25 for the last flight, we started packing up the “briefing tent”. Once it was airborne, we started packing up as much as we could, so when it landed, we could be ready for loading. One of the volunteers came from Pennsylvania, and had a pick up, so it made for much easier transport back over to the aircraft. We got a good workout handing up the equipment to one of the crew members once they landed and the passengers were all off the aircraft.

We were scheduled to “block out” of the spot at 4:45 and needed to be back over the DelMarVa Pennisula by 6 pm.

We got a nice tailwind flying back, and had to spend some extra time with low level flights while we waiting on our designated time for 3 fly-overs. We had to be over Mardela Springs at 6 pm, and Georgetown at 6:15 pm, then one more flyover on the south side of the Indian River Inlet.

STATS FROM FLIGHT AWARE – 1hr 31 minutes home with 3 fly overs HGR – GED dept 4:52 landing 6:23pm, max altitude 7240

My husband was “on the ground” at the 20th anniversary of 9/11 program in Georgetown, and he was monitoring our path on FlightAware.com . While we were “getting close” I was able to send him a text message and tell him our “actual” ETA, which he shared with the MC. He knew we had these other fly-by’s, but wondered what we were doing looping around. 3 of the “loops” in the above picture were of fly-by’s, and the rest we were just “killing time and looking at the countryside”.

To see our return flight on Flight Aware .com, click link below and then hit the REPLAY button at the bottom- https://flightaware.com/live/flight/map/N9079Z/history/20210911/2115Z/KHGR/KGED

All of my photos and videos are in an album you can see in my Panchito Flight Experience album here – https://photos.app.goo.gl/N8D3dsjn3anonSA16

I would like to say, this was an incredible flight adventure for me. I think my last flight on board a military aircraft was in 1979, on board a C-141, flying from Incirlik Air Base Turkey to Athens AB, Greece. I was a “very new” Staff Sergeant at the time. In all the years between then and now, I worked at military bases, and spent 26 of those years at Dover AFB, and never got another military aircraft flight again. I spent a lot of time on the ground on the various planes, from KC-135, KC-10, C141, C130, C17 and C5, along with DC8, DC10, 747, and an Anotov 124, along with many planes belonging to our international partners. It was an incredible way to honor the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, and makes me think about all the military people I have known since then, that have done their duty for this great country.

I would like to thank my friend Pete, who asked me to help for the day, and the incredible people from the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation who maintain and operate the B-25 Mitchell Panchito. The pilots, Sabrina and Calvin do so much more than just “fly”. Sabrina was there on Friday, working on reinstalling panels on the aircraft until after 8 pm. Calvin did all the arrangements for the bookings for the flights, loading the gear for the outbound flight, taking lunch orders and even towing the aircraft out of the hanger. A very young crew member was Connor, and he was handling every odd job sent his way, including assisting with fueling. On the ground in Hagerstown I got to meet Bill, aka The Janitor. He was a secondary crew member handling passengers in the back of the aircraft.

If you have an interest in flying on this WWII era aircraft, look at the events tab on the museum website – https://www.delawareaviationmuseum.org/events.html and pre-book and pre-pay. The “money shot seat” is the jump seat. It takes a good bit of effort to climb on board and maneuver into any of those seats. (My quads are telling me that today!!) The next event locally is at the Wings and Wheels Air Show, October 2, Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown Delaware. If you want to fly in this aircraft, I recommend you get yourself booked in advance! I usually go to this event with my hubby, as he likes to take his truck and show it at the “car show”. This year, you may find me at the B-25 tent or out and about the area. I often run into friends showing their vehicle or looking at some of the other great aircraft on display. Over the years I have shared photo’s, and the last time I went, my grandchildren really got to enjoy the planes, the cars, and of course, all the variety of vendors.

I hope you enjoy looking at the photos in the album, and in those videos, appreciate the “sound” of freedom that military aircraft make.

Have you ever done an “experience” flight such as this? Do tell….love your comments!

UPDATE — I’ve been advised that the “stats” in FLIGHT AWARE are not always “spot on”, so take what you see on that website with a “grain of salt”. The pilot informed me “ FlightAware’s altitude reporting is not accurate. We have proved that with flights we know and recorded our actual altitude against what FlightAware shows.” Our minimum altitude was above 1000 feet during the flyby’s.

6 thoughts on “B25 Mitchell – the Panchito experience

    • Hi Judy – thanks for being a long time follower!! This flight was quite the adventure. The pilot told me that the “museum operates the flights on a Living History Flight Experience exemption from the FAA, and Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation is a leader in the industry for safe operations and the FAA has recognized it.” The two pilots flying are the two that are certified by FAA to TRAIN other pilots from around the country and are one of the few “schools” to do so. I definitely felt the history, and admire our service members that served in the era. My dad was a tail gunner in a B17, and luckily survived. He always wanted to be the pilot but was told he was too short, and they had the “job” for him. Having flown in this aircraft, I can see why “size matters”, especially for crawling about inside the plane to the position for his duty. Your uncles experiences were no doubt under austere conditions, and they, along with so many other brave men & women did their duty when called. I hope our future generations will respond to the call if ever needed. The loss to a family when a brother, uncle, or a dad doesn’t return leaves great gaps, and greater questions. As I stood on our airplanes at Dover AFB alongside war casualties, I knew that all I could do is pray for the families to eventually find peace. The hardest part of my job after 9-11 was to take the initial call from our headquarters with the names of the deceased, and the flight information. It was an honor to stand on the aircraft when the casualties arrived, and pray for them.

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